Following Author’s Marital Affair, Former Crossway Title Picked Up by Fortress Press

Publisher’s Weekly reports:

Three years after a sex scandal involving Billy Graham’s grandson Tullian Tchividjian, Fortress Press is bringing his book Jesus + Nothing = Everything back to print. Slated for publication in fall 2018, the reprinted book will feature a new cover, new endorsements, and an introduction by Tchividjian that addresses the past three years, including “how the message of God’s grace has sustained him,” according to the publisher.

The book… was originally published by Crossway in 2011. It tied for Christianity Today’s Christian living book award in 2012, and according to Fortress, it sold over 80,000 copies. In 2015, however, Crossway reverted the rights to Jesus + Nothing = Everything as well as the rights to Tchividjian’s 2010 Surprised by Grace back to the author after he stepped down from his position as senior pastor at Florida mega church Coral Ridge Presbyterian, having admitted to extra-marital affairs with adult members of his congregation.

College professor and investigative blogger Warren Throckmorton quoted a press release from Fortress which we tried to source directly. It quotes the author as saying,

Jesus + Nothing = Everything is a book I poured my heart and soul into, and it’s helped a lot of people, including me,” said Tchividjian. “I believe—and need!—the message of this book even more now than when I first wrote it. My wife and I have received hundreds of requests for Jesus+ Nothing = Everything, so I’m extremely grateful that Fortress Press is republishing it.”

Mentioning his other titles, Publisher’s Weekly notes:

Tchividjian’s other books, published by Christian houses WaterBrook/Multnomah and David C Cook, remain in print, but the author hopes that Jesus + Nothing = Everything reaches readers who like him have “crashed and burned,” he told PW.

English print titles as listed by Ingram:

Product Name Contributor Supplier Pub Date
One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World (English) Tchividjian, Tullian David C Cook 10/01/2013
Do I Know God?: Finding Certainty in Life’s Most Important Relationship (English) Tchividjian, Tullian Multnomah Books 04/14/2009
Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different (English) Tchividjian, Tullian Multnomah Books 06/05/2012
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Corner Brook, NF: As One Store Closes, Another is Born

On June 4th, The Connection opened in Corner Brook, NFLD.

From The Western Star:

Father and son pastors open bookstore and coffee shop in Corner Brook

Twenty-six years ago, Cyril Rogers moved his family, which included his wife Joan and their five children, to Corner Brook in a school bus.

His son Jon Rogers said they lived in that bus while his dad started the SonRise Ministries.

Today, Jon Rogers is a pastor at the church, serving alongside his dad.

But ministry was not Cyril’s only vision.

Jon said his dad always wanted to open a coffee shop and bookstore.

The father and son did just that two weeks ago with the opening of The Connection at 8 Mount Bernard Ave., in the former Humber Motors Ford building.

Jon said his family had long been customers of the Bible Truth Supply, which recently closed its shop in the Valley Mall.

He said the store was doing well in the community, but the owners decided to move on…

…The day after the opening Jon’s wife Angie gave birth to their first child, Sophie.

He said it’s been like having two kids at the same time…

click here to continue reading Diane Crocker’s June 18 story at The Western Star.

image: Store Facebook Page




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Dear Parasource B2B: I Really, Really Don’t Like You

My mission on Monday morning is to find out who manages Christian music artist Jordan Feliz and tell them, quite plainly, what’s going on here.

His new CD Future 314294 is only available as a phone order. B2B will, if you bought it before, take you to an information page, but that’s as far as it goes. Adding it to a cart is impossible, and I’ve tried several different ways. It’s not available to order.

And here’s the thing: I reported this a week ago…

…I don’t usually work Saturdays and this one was particularly stressful. I’m sitting down to supper in a few minutes and just want to wrap up some orders and B2B is just sucking up valuable time.

I have other things to do. Life is short. I don’t need my time perpetually wasted and wasted and wasted and wasted by a computer interface which has been broken for about three years now and one for which the supplier has no motivation to fix it since all of us trade stores are rapidly disappearing anyway.

I am angry. I shouldn’t write angry, but this is a blog, not a news feed.

It’s time to follow the lead of another store owner — who would not want to be named here — who told me he gets all his music from Word Alive now. Yes, the list prices are on average $1 higher, but it’s worth it not to have my time wasted.

When it’s not this it’s something else. Two days ago eleven packages of Dayspring cards were entered twice. So I went through the order and reset the quantities back to zero and updated. But then, around 8:00 PM, I wanted to check something on the order and there they all were. Nothing had changed.

Several days before that we were trying to find a title that isn’t known to U.S. vendors. So there was no way to pull the ISBN from another site as we usually do. The problem is that the search term was too general, but we had to persist with it anyway. There were 112 possible results, and the server at Parasource couldn’t do it. It couldn’t compile them on a single page. The screen timed out.

And God help anyone who has more than about 50 items on a single order. When you try to view cart, the server can’t comply. The screen times out, though you might get lucky the third try.

This is just an insult to store owners.


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Name Tags: Yay or Nay?

Does your store have staff name tags?

This is something we haven’t done. It’s a small store. It’s a small staff.

Lately I’ve been thinking about this. We serve a lot of regional customers who don’t know us. They might benefit by putting a name to the face.

I’ve also made a point of introducing myself at some point in the conversation, “My name’s Paul; I’m the store owner.”

I also find that customers want to know a little about the people serving. We’re putting our music and speaking schedule on tomorrow’s newsletter so people will know what my wife and I are up to.

That also confuses people. The primary employee — she’s visible more than I am — isn’t my wife. I suppose a first-and-last-name tag would clear that up, though some employees we hired over the years probably would prefer not to have that level of identification.

So…does your staff use them?

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Student Editions Build on Familiar Titles

This week in our store we’re featuring books with “Student Edition” in the title. These are not all of them, just some that were grabbed to make a quick display.  Many of our authors create student editions of their books for middle school or high school kids to better understand the concept of their bestsellers.

I split the shelf for this to render better on Facebook; left to right:

  • Mark Batterson (he has 3 others, all done with his son Parker),
  • Haley DiMarco (actually all her books are student editions; I’m not sure how this ended up on the shelf!),
  • Kyle Idleman (4 titles available),
  • Joyce Meyer (Battlefield for Teens, book spine is facing out, I should have swapped it out with Haley for the picture we posted on our store Facebook; not surprising there’s also a kids edition of Battlefield),
  • Lee Strobel (a total of six titles available and those same six titles also have a kids edition),
  • Lysa TerKeurst, and
  • Scot McKnight.

Not showing are

  • Christine Caine,
  • Max Lucado (he’s done 14, not all are in print)
  • The Story Bible, and
  • 3 titles by Mark Hall of Casting Crowns.

Great summer reading idea for the teen guy or girl in your customer’s family of sphere of influence.

The advantage of student editions is that these are editions of books with which adult readers are already quite familiar. Out of all the Christian books published for young adults, I would guess these probably represent about 2%, 3% or perhaps 4% at most.

Did I miss any?


Toronto’s Faith Culture Store Moving to an Unknown Location

A number of people have mentioned Faith Culture and we haven’t reported anything here because nothing concrete has been posted to the store website or Facebook page.

What we’ve been told by several people is that the team was unable to reach a deal with their landlord moving forward, and that unsold inventory was being boxed up and put in storage pending a solution.

(Anyone knowing more on good authority is welcome to contact us.)

Faith Culture was formed nearly a decade ago out of the closing of the Toronto R. G. Mitchell Family Books store. It was originally run by Castle Quay Publishing’s Larry Willard until a severe automobile accident several years ago forced him to step back. Several years ago the store was rebranded as a Christian store and event centre, with a wide variety of activities taking place each month.

The city of Scarborough — the easternmost city comprising Metro Toronto — is currently served by a Catholic book and supply store and a handful of Christian stores having a focus on the Asian community. The nearest Christian bookstore within the city limits would be Cornerstone at Yonge and Finch.

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A Book Every Store Should Purchase for Its Own Use

This week we were truly blessed when a former customer, now living on the other side of the continent, gifted us with a copy of Best Bible Books: New Testament Resources by John Glynn with contributions from 4 other writers; published just weeks ago by Kregel Academic.

On a book-by-book basis, it lists the books it consider best resources and the books which are better resources and the ones which are simply good, as well as, at the end of each Biblical book’s section recommending additional books on other subjects which arise out of those texts. (The good/better/best ranking is done as each title arises alphabetically; one needs to read through the listings carefully.)

More than just a recommended list, it offers an informed rundown of the approach the author takes in each; followed by the format and usability.

It’s important to state that the books do not all receive glowing recommendations; there are some tough criticisms here which means no pastor, professor or student will end up with a resource which differed from their expectations.

Many of us in Christian retail often find ourselves out of our depth when dealing with customers seeking scholarly and academic resources. We want to be an authoritative source of this type of information, but the customer is usually better informed than we are.

Again, to be clear, this is a resource that each staff member should spend at least ten minutes gaining overall familiarity with, and then it should be kept behind the counter. When a customer asks for a good book on Galatians, you turn to that section and pass the book to the customer.

Many of the recommended books are from mainstream sources, though retailers will encounter some esoteric publishers. Page counts are given but not U.S. list prices. There are some expensive titles to be sure, and Canadian stores also need to consider short discounts when establishing a domestic price to offer the customer if there is no distributor here.

Publisher marketing:

There are thousands of excellent resources in the field of New Testament studies. But which tools are best for sermon preparation, topical study, research, or classroom study? In Best Bible Books, the authors review and recommend hundreds of books, saving pastors, students, and scholars time, effort, and money.

Glynn and Burer examine commentaries on every book of the New Testament, describing their approach, format, and usability; they then rank them on a scale of good, better, and best. Other chapters survey special studies for each New Testament book as well as books in related disciplines such as historical background, language resources, and hermeneutics. Also included are helpful chapters on building a must-have personal library, and identifying books that comprise the ultimate New Testament commentary collection. This is an indispensable resource for any serious student of the Bible.

Additional sections include recommended resources on general New Testament background, Jewish context, Jesus in the Gospels, and commentary series themselves.

To repeat, this is a book your store gives itself. Keep it handy. We’re hoping to use ours to answer many questions we could never answer previously.

Paperback | 336 pages | 9780825443985 | $27.99 US | $37.79 CDN (Parasource; phone order only; not on B2B)

Canadian Merchants Being Duped by Non-Official Indian Status Cards

CBC News is reporting tonight that an identification card from the Confederation of Aboriginal People of Canada is being presented to major retailers as if it were a Indian Status Band Identification card. The report comes at the beginning of the second half hour of the newscast.

This is a sample of the card you should NOT be accepting. Look for the word Confederation in the upper left.  The more familiar cards entitle the bearer to provincial tax exemption; everyone pays the 5% GST unless you the merchant personally deliver the merchandise to reservation land.

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Ontario Conservatives 2019 Minimum Wage Cancellation: Good News and Bad News

A year ago we used this CBC News graphic to show the proposed difference in Ontario minimum wages. On Thursday, the province elected a Progressive Conservative government which vows to cancel the final stage of the increase, from $14 per hour to $15 per hour originally scheduled for January 1st, 2019.

It might be hard to envision anything bad about the promise by newly-elected Ontario Conservatives to cancel the second stage of the province’s minimum wage law, but hear me out.

In January the minimum went from $11.60 per hour to $14.00 per hour. All at once. Some retailers took a big hit from this. Staffing levels and store hours were put under the microscope.

In our case, our primary employees have been with us for a long time. Our system is set up so that employees receive a merit increase every 6th paycheque (i.e. every 12 weeks) of 1%, ending each year with an average 4.3% increase (which is better than some union contracts.)

So our employees were above $14 per hour when the change happened. (We had to accelerate the 1% increases for one employee, but she was deserving.)

However, for 2018, we took a look at the dollar amount each employee had been above the minimum before the change on January 1st, 2018, and where they stood now. (We chose to do dollar amounts, and not percentages, which would have been more costly to consider.)

Additionally though, we also looked at where they need to be on January 1st, 2019 relative to where they had been on December 31st, 2017.

We decided the only way to accomplish this was with a series of accelerated increases every 6th paycheque, not just 1%.

So our employees have been on a trajectory to enter 2019 with a wage rate that exceeds the minimum that was to have taken effect on January 1, 2019.

That was the plan.

But the cancellation announced by Doug Ford’s incoming government in the past few days means we need to revisit our carefully designed plans. (One employee has already suggested we’re paying her too much.) It also means that over all, we’re currently paying a little on the high side, something we can ill afford to do in a small town market.

It’s difficult to make plans. You can plan for an increase, but then, almost halfway through the year as we are, it’s hard to adjust for an increase that’s not happening, short of freezing the recurring increases.

For those of you in Ontario with part time student staff, I suppose this is a win; and it is for us as well, but not being able to foresee this was disturbing. Our goal was to ease into the increase, but for those of you whose stores pay rock bottom minimum, this would work out quite well, I guess.

For the record, our employees also get a 10% discount on store merchandise and an annual Christmas dinner for employees and their spouses or guests. I’d be curious to know how that compares at your store.

Flashback – One Year Ago – Miminum Wage Increase Will Be Hardship for Christian Stores

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Supplier Again Undercuts Stores with Massive Discount

Canadian Christian retailers are finding their DVD department is becoming a flashpoint for much angst, frustration and difficult pricing decisions.

After being the target of much anger from retailers over its direct sales, Parasource has done it again offering more than 50% off a forthcoming movie release. There’s certainly no interest in making friends with customers in its trade division with this discount on the movie I Can Only Imagine. For as little as a single copy, the DVD is $19.88 and the DVD/Blu-Ray combo is $24.96 when purchased at their consumer website.

At first, we were tipped off on this because of a newsletter sent Friday to churches and ministry leaders. But closer examination showed that the offer is available to anyone. As of 11:00 AM EDT, the company had 325 copies in stock, a quantity that should easily sell through at wholesale, so this retail move isn’t exactly panic selling.

Rather, it’s an admission that the suggested retail price on this item is completely meaningless. As we reported Monday, American CBA stores have been offered a lower list price of only $17.99:

The price on Paul: Apostle of Christ was also higher than we’ve seen before, at $35.99 CDN. This comes at a time when many consumers have walked away from physical DVDs completely, opting to stream movies on demand on services such as Netflix. If anything, one would have expected to see lower, not higher DVD pricing.

The problem comes when stores start having to radically discount DVD product each time. That results in a erosion of profit, the return on investment (ROI) making stores less viable or sustainable over time. Presently, some stores are following the logic which states: Better to just make a few dollars in order to generate store traffic which might drive other purchases.

Hopefully, that strategy is proved correct.


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Facebook Paid Advertising Fails to Deliver

Following some advice from a comment at Christian Retail Insights Group, I decided to spring for an inexpensive advertisement in support of the I Can Only Imagine DVD, releasing Tuesday.

We’ve done this once before and decided to set a geographical limit of 40 km from an point north of store (because the map Facebook draws is a circle, and with Lake Ontario, using our store as the centre point didn’t make much sense. It also eliminates the interactions we did have last time with people in Niagara Falls who didn’t know where Cobourg was.)(Update: This time it was Wisconsin.)

We chose a demographic starting at age 24, since anyone younger than this have eschewed DVDs at this point.

We were promised a minimum of 470 placements with a possible maximum of about 2,100. (I don’t remember the exact high number but it was at least that.) The key of course, is their use of the word “up to” and I would have been happy just to have 470 receive our announcement.

But for the second time in a row, Facebook didn’t deliver. Just hours before the promotion ended we were still stalled in the low 200s and of course there’s nothing we could do to change this. Then it crept up a little higher, and with minutes left, they were claiming the number below, which they say ended with a reach of 305 people

I can get 305 people any day, just by strongly encouraging my customers to share a particular post.

Facebook took our money, and all communications with them come from a “no-reply” address, so there’s no appeal.

This was the second try, and at this point: Never again.

I’m glad it works for some people. It doesn’t work for us.

Number of orders for the movie = zero.

Number of other types of inquiries from people hearing about us for the first time = zero.

Number of phone interactions resulting from the promotion = zero.

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Burlington’s Christian Store Revisits General Market Books

Anyone who has dabbled in remainder books has probably seen great titles on offer which lie outside the Christian marketplace but represent genuine value to customers and wondered, “What if…”

The staff at Family Christian in Burlington, Ontario recognized the potential in some of those bargain titles and in the Fall of 2015 opened Froogal, just a few doors away from their own store.  We looked at that store opening in this article. Sadly, months later, in January 2017 they decided to halt the experiment and cut their losses. We reported on that in this article.

Then, this month, they announced that Froogal was back, stating,

“…we have created a “Froogal” section in the basement of The Family Christian Bookstore. The same great selection of baby and children’s books, craft books, puzzle books and activity books that you know and love is now located at 750 Guelph Line, just up the road!”

There’s also a link to their online inventory, powered by BookManager.

For those who loved the Family Christian bargain basement just the way it was, this may cut into one of their favourite places, but bargain book shoppers often read beyond the limits of religious publishing, and with children’s picture books and reference works all located in the same building, they might just decide it’s more of a win than a loss.

Furthermore, the owners are coming into this wiser by virtue of their first experiment. We certainly wish them the best in this iteration of Froogal, and we’ll be watching to see if this could be a model for other Christian stores which have some unexploited space to spare.

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